As Diana Trout on TV Land’s “Younger,” Miriam Shor has had to embody a polished, put-together publishing executive who commands respect. When the show debuted, she was in the ultimate power position, holding Liza’s (Sutton Foster) future in her hands simply by deciding whether to hire her as an assistant. As seasons have gone on, though, she has gotten to let her guard down occasionally to showcase a softer side.
“She’s still a difficult boss. She has her challenges. But just when you think you know how she’s going to react to something, or how she’s going to behave in a situation, there’s a humanity that comes through, and it’s a joy to play,” Shor tells Variety.
Now in its fourth season, “Younger” is exploring a far more vulnerable side to Diana by putting her in a relationship that at first glance seems healthy — but hints at troubles she’s willing to overlook.
“I think we’ve all been in relationships – whether they’re romantic relationships or not – where there are things that you excuse because you want it to work, because you are hopeful, because you’ve invested in this relationship and you might not otherwise let them fly, but you’re being optimistic,” Shor says.
Diana is in love with divorced therapist Richard (Mather Zickel), and that has her making more compromises than the audience, let alone she herself, may have expected. It was one thing for Diana to open up her one-bedroom Manhattan apartment to him, but then he wanted his adult son to spend time there as well. Surprisingly, Diana allowed it as a solution to a complicated problem – but not for long.
“Diana and Richard’s relationship comes to an important head in episode 11 that I’m really proud of and that I thought was a great episode for Diana,” Shor says. “You get to see her really understand who she is in this relationship and understand her as a person and what she wants. I hope that people will really feel for her and see her strengths in a different way. I was like ‘Yes! Proud of you, Diana.'”
Diana doesn’t just have it tough at home right now. Her work life is about to be shaken up, too, as Empirical Publishing House competes to bring in big-name authors and the next big book franchise. “There’s going to be a lot of changes at work, and she’s going to have to navigate that,” Shor says. “She’s a woman in power, and she worked really hard to get to that place, so it will be interesting to see if she feels threatened or is accommodating to [the changes].”
One constant in Diana’s life is how busy she is. That gives Shor some of the greatest joy, she says, because it allows her moments where she’s so sure of herself but then has the rug pulled out from under her. (“I’m a ham, I just love playing that!” she laughs.) And it also keeps her in the dark about Liza’s true age and life as a single mom.
“I think Diana is often perplexed by how Liza can be so knowing, but what I find interesting about Diana – and funny – is that sometimes she takes credit for it. Like, ‘Wow, she’s really following my advice, and that’s why she’s maturing,'” Shor says, noting that it all comes down to perception.
She compares it to her work in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” where she played a man. “I was in front of people who were five feet away from me, without massive makeup on, and people really just accept what you show them,” Shor adds.
Still, Shor does have a fantasy that Liza will reveal the truth to her soon enough. And given that “Younger” has already been renewed for season five, with ever more characters “in the know” about Liza, it isn’t completely off the table. In Shor’s perfect storyline, she says, “Liza tells her, and Diana says, ‘Please, I know. I’ve always known. And I know what you have to do to get ahead in this business, so go for it. But go get my f—ing coffee.’ Because Diana gets it, but she’s still a narcissist, and Liza’s still her assistant.”
“Younger” airs on TV Land Wednesdays at 10 p.m.